Eclectic Shopping and Urban Renewal in Budapest
When I went to Budapest last week—that unduly beautiful capital on the Danube—I spent an afternoon checking-out some boutiques recommended in a June 7 New York Times article about the city’s budding design scene (just yesterday it also ran this piece). All the shops are located in Pest—the newer, commercial side of the river—in a triangle near the Hungarian National Museum (14-16 Múzeum korut, District IX); and the bar and restaurant strip of Raday utca. Let’s call the area, which is really just a small piece of District IX, Karolyi Kert, after the leafy park in the heart of the ‘hood.
By the time I got to Karolyi Kert most of the boutiques had closed for the afternoon (Budapest's shops seem to close early on Saturdays), including the shop Retrock Deluxe, which carries luxury brands like Nanushka and Je Suis Belle as well as (from what I could see through the window), sparkly purple coats and colorful wigs.
While I did enjoy window-browsing the post-communist tees and trinkets at its younger sister store, Retrock, what I found most interesting about the quarter was the massive construction underway there. Ninety percent of the streets had been dug up and were in the process of being recobbled; workers were cleaning and repainting lovely 19th century Hapsburg-era buildings; a new glass high rise was hidden under scaffolding, nearly complete.
Turns out the European Union is funneling money into this formerly soviet-occupied city, helping it change from down-and-out to up-and-coming. The whole place seems to be under construction—and nowhere more so than Karolyi Kert. The area's not very picturesque right now, as you can imagine, but I can’t wait to see what the future will bring for this emerging neighborhood!
Catesby Holmes is an assistant editor at Travel + Leisure.